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I feel that cinema should be like a box of surprises, like a magic box
April 2, 2013 9:54 AM   Subscribe

RIP Jesús 'Jess' Franco, the prolific Spanish horror and exploitation writer and director of films such as Vampyros Lesbos and The Awful Dr. Orloff who was once condemned by the Vatican as one of the most dangerous filmmakers in the world.

AV Club interview
posted by fearfulsymmetry (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
',..,'
posted by brundlefly at 9:57 AM on April 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


An absolutely terrible filmmaker, yet endearing in a sub-Ed Wood way and with a singular body of work. Sad to see go one of the truly - well, not influential , not visionary, not really important - let's say one of the truly unique in his field.
posted by item at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos is the best. Quentin Tarrantino wishes he had that soundtrack.
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos is the best. Quentin Tarrantino wishes he had that soundtrack.

Actually, QT put "The Lions and the Cucumber" from the original VL soundtrack on the Jackie Brown soundtrack.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


fearfulsymmetry: "...who was once condemned by the Vatican as one of the most dangerous filmmakers in the world."

You know you're living your life right when you've earned condemnation by the Vatican. :)

of films such as Vampyros Lesbos and The Awful Dr. Orloff

And Women in Cellblock 9, Oasis of the Zombies, Justine (Marquis de Sade), Erotikill, Necronomicon, Count Dracula, and A Virgin Among the Living Dead, which had the funniest flying bat sequence I've ever seen in a movie.

Just assume they're all NSFW. :)
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on April 2, 2013


Oh, and

',..,'


That's brilliant, brundlefly. Am totally stealing it.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


who was once condemned by the Vatican as one of the most dangerous filmmakers in the world.

A badge of honor if ever there were one.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:32 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was also the second unit director on Orson Welles' CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (which he said "was a total mess, not because the film was too expensive, but because Orson lied with the budget and the film was ten times more expensive. You can imagine...what a disaster.") Later on, he purchased some of the extant footage from Welles' failed Don Quixote project, and edited together something called "Don Quijote de Orson Welles", which has variously been called "a depressing experience suitable only for those Welles scholars interested in seeing every piece of film the director shot", "not even an approximation, never mind a reconstruction ... a travesty", or simply "crude, gappy, and slapdash". Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his essay "When Will — and How Can — We Finish Orson Welles’s DON QUIXOTE?", said merely that Franco "did more to mutilate and distort Welles’ material than anyone had ever done to The Magnificent Ambersons or Mr. Arkadin."
posted by orthicon halo at 10:51 AM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Samizdata at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2013


It's crazy that when I was a kid movies were thought to be "dangerous" or "Satanic". In our demotic world today, nothing is particularly shocking anymore.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:46 AM on April 2, 2013


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posted by Splunge at 12:05 PM on April 2, 2013


My wife (then girlfriend) and I ran across Vampyros Lesbos on annual inventory night when we worked at Best Buy. Someone had put it in the Disney section which we found terribly amusing. What cracked us up was that, because we were doing inventory, no one was allowed to move it.

I bought it the next day, it was awful but it was totally worth it. We still laugh about it when we see it on the shelf.
posted by VTX at 12:07 PM on April 2, 2013


Ah, Jess Franco, who gave us film titles with received wisdom like Nightmares Come At Night. Jess Franco, whose concept of lesbianism consists of smouldering looks. Jess Franco, who managed to make Klaus Kinski appear even more demented than Herzog could.

I will close with a passage from A Virgin Among the Living Dead:

"I will pray every day for you. From my dark well of loneliness, I will pray for you. So as to keep evil away. May Heaven help you."
posted by adipocere at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Have to disagree with any assertions that Franco was a "terrible" filmmaker or equating him with Ed Wood. He was completely capable of making a movie that looked like he'd never even seen another movie before-- seriously, Oasis of the Zombies is one of the worst films I've ever seen-- but he was also just as likely to knock out something completely amazing. He was maddeningly inconsistent, but he also made nearly 200 films, and a good number of them are genuinely great. The only thing he really had in common with Ed Wood was an overwhelming obsession with movies, something that made them both interesting filmmakers.

Here's a list of Franco films currently available on Netflix for anyone interesting in looking for a way into his imposing oeuvre. Unfortunately I don't know offhand which versions of these films are available; many of his films exist in a number of different versions, some of them vastly preferable to others. His original version of A Virgin Among the Living Dead is fantastic, truly surreal and unsettling. The old U.S. home video release is terrible. Also, it's a shame that Franco's Venus in Furs (1969) and Faceless (1987) are not more readily accessible. They're both worth seeking out and an example of Franco at his best, although the styles of each film are completely different.

The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/190211

The Bloody Judge (1970):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/158972

Dr. Orloff's Monster (1967):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189698

Female Vampire (1973):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189580

Island of Despair (1969):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/159803

Killer Barbys (1996):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189669

Kiss Me, Killer (1977):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/158754

Oasis of the Zombies (1982):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/175221

Nightmares Come at Night (1970):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189671

Revenge in the House of Usher (1988):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189683

The Sadistic Baron von Klaus (1962):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189913

A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973):
http://instantwatcher.com/titles/189641
posted by rabbitroom at 1:22 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


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posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:51 PM on April 2, 2013


"He was maddeningly inconsistent, but he also made nearly 200 films, and a good number of them are genuinely great."

Give me the resources to make 200 films and I guarantee you that a good number of them will be great. I think most could say the same.
posted by Birchpear at 11:07 PM on April 2, 2013


Um, no, Birchpear. My parents took thousands of pictures; none of them were artistically great. It's not a matter of numbers and probability that a director's film will be great.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:12 PM on April 4, 2013


I bet at least one of them is great. Look again.
posted by Birchpear at 6:24 AM on April 6, 2013


If you're right, that would equate to one good frame of film. Gonna need a LOT of talentless parents to make a good movie.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:37 PM on April 7, 2013


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